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tv   Book Discussion on Sally Ride  CSPAN  February 21, 2015 10:03am-11:01am EST

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>> thank you ann, very much. and thanks to all of you. i want to say welcome to this beautiful place and also thank you for having me here. i love being among book lovers, and for those of you who came to hear vicki talk about her wonderful book about el haven'ts i'm sorry about that but if it helps, i did write a book about giraffes. [laughter] truly magnificent creatures.fes i'll take a little detour here. i considery laughs -- giraffes not only the most gorgeousatta creatures on the planet, but also the most political correct. they never attack unless they're attacked. they're very peace able. they're vegetarians and no pat giraffes discriminates against another giraffe on the basis of its skin patterns. [laughter] they also have the longest eyemo lashes in captivity. they're great creatures and i'm
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more than happy to talk about h them and that book another time. you, sometimes today hug someone or something you love. as that only happens to be a book that's okay, too. we love books. i also want to point out tomorrow february 15th is the birthday of one of my heroes, susan b. anthony, who of course led the great campaign in the 19th century to get us women not only the right to vote but every other single right as well. [applause] yes, thank you very much. so happy birthday to susan b. anthony in advance. susan b. anthony shares that birthday with the as stronger in -- astronomer galileo who came along on february 15th centuries earlier. his crime was revealing the earth is not the center of the universe. susan's was revealing men are not. [laughter] [applause]
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both of these things are the sort of revolutionary thoughts that have guided most of my professional life, whether as a reporter in print or on television or in writing books. and yes, i have witnessed a lot of revolutions in my career, consider for example, the "new yorker" cartoon, about 20 years ago, fellow walks into a bookstore walks up to the bespectacled clerk she says to him, nodding wisely, yes, she says books by men are in the basement. nothing personal gentlemen. the truth of course is that women's books and everything women do and women's place is everywhere right now but whether it is books or on television, or in real life, i actually learned about my place on the planet from a series of
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experiences that i had while i was working in television news. one of them was, when i was back at abc news, where i enjoyed a long and wonderful career. one day my piece was done early for world news, what was then 7:00 probably 6:30 news. i got to leave early. i went with my husband over to visit my mother-in-law. i loved her and watched me on television a lot. never seen me in the same room while the tv was on. so at one point, larry said mother lynn, has a piece on the news and watched. he stood in the front of room and turned on tv. diana was sitting in her chair watching and i was next to the tv as well. here is what happened. tv came on. my piece came on and diana looked at the tv, then she looked at me. then she looked at the tv and looked at me, back and forth the entire minute and 10 seconds. i don't think she absorbed a word what i was saying.
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the poor woman who was so smart had escaped from revolutionary czar it russia, under a load of hey, come to new york, started a business in the garment center, ran her whole life brilliantly, raise ad fabulous son. this woman could not understand how i could be on television and in her room at the same time. [laughter] which to me was the genuine article. that is results that when you step outside of the box. i know that is a position or mind-set i adopted regularly as a kind of a reality check on that very strong medium medium. on the flip side of the diana story, occurred during the first space shuttle liftoff. i'm down at the cape for abc news. i'm out in the so-called vip area out in front, and frank reynolds our anchor who you probably remember, wonderful reporter and anchorman is up in the booth. at one point frank turned to me,
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and now we go to lynn sherr to find out what is happening in the vip area. it is pitch black. it is predawn. all these folks around us waiting for the first shuttle liftoff you may remember didn't happen until two weeks later. nonetheless, there we are. while i was doing the whole thing there was a little black and white tv monitor about this big sitting on the ground in front of me so that i could know when frank through it to me. i had earpiece on but i could see what was going on. frank throws it to me and my producer stands there with her arms out like a bird sort of holding, you know, keeping the crowds away. i'm talking into the camera and i'm kind of looking at the monitor and i'm, no doubt saying something terribly important and i noticed, the crowd was very hushed which was good for my ego. then i realized that even though i was standing there, all five feet eight 1/2 inches of me, living, breathing color, every
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eye in the crowd was looking at black and white seven-inch tv monitor. tv was the reality. life a mere bystander. this is the sort of thing that went on for much of my television life. as a local television news reporter in new york i got a call early one morning that there had been, there was a story i had to cover, there had been one of these miracle micro surgery operations. one of the very first ones back in the early '70s, when a man's hand was reattached to his arm and i was supposed to go out to brooklyn to cover the story. there was a press conference about it. i threw on clothes. randown stairs. crew picked me up. we drive out to brooklyn. walk across the parking lot, i'm carrying a try p.o.d. someone taking something else. little old man says hey, you're on television. yes, i'm on television.
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hey, you're lynn sherr, aren't you? , i said, yes, thank you very much. thank you for recognizing me. he looked at me and said, you look better on television. so i tran to the ladies room and put on makeup and we went from there. after i left that job, and had been off the air several weeks. i was walking on lexington avenue near blame ming -- bloomingdale's in new york someone said, didn't you used to be lynn sherr? how does one respond? it is confusing. one morning back at abc, i was down at the cape getting ready to anchor one of the early morning launches. remember most of the launches were really early in the morning. which meant if you were anchoring them you had to be this position real real early in the morning or late at night. my husband had come down to join me. it seafaring in the morning.
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he -- 4:00 in the morning. i am in the other seat going over last minute notes. he turns to me with his eyes buyerly open and turns to me and says, thank you for sharing the glamorous part of your life. the truth of course it has been very glamorous. reporting television news, was i can't say so much for now, but it was a wonderful and exciting and important way live my life. i think we did a very critically important things. i think we saved some lives around i had an awful lot of fun doing it. and i will say that while i loved covering politics, and i loved all the pieces i did about social change and all sorts of things, one of the most exuberant stories i got to cover was covering the space program. so writing this new book, sally ride america's first woman in space, has been a combination of a labor of love.
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bittersweet basally was my good friend and also a way of reliving and retelling some of the most important moments in our country's history. in terms of the book, let me start with a cartoon. and the scene is teenage girl's bedroom, a surprisingly neat teenage girl's bedroom i might add. and it is bursting with science textbooks and posters of the space shuttle and astronomy books and globes and all sorts of wonderful things about this this young woman. and the teenager sitting in her t-shirt, at her desk, at her computer staring at the monitor. on the monitor is the very sad news that sally ride america's first woman in space has just died. she is looking at the headline sally ride, 1951-2012. there is picture, very familiar picture of sally. the teenage girl is looking on in utter shock. not so much what she sees on the
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screen but the backstory. behind her is standing her mom and in her mom jeans and the mom is saying something to the girl but the caption is the teenage girl. what the teenage girl is saying to her mom is, wait, wait are you saying it there was a time when there weren't any women astronauts? yes. exactly. sally ride, did not grow up with astronaut dreams. back then the job was simply not available. when she was born in may of 1951, the united states space program was a men's club, a white men's club. restricted to fighter pilots and military men. the few women who did apply and keep in mind we have a lot of very qualified women pilots in those days in the early '50s middle '50s out of world war ii and work they had done. but all of these talented women were summarily rejected. women were considered too weak
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too unscientific, too well, womanly to fly in the space program. one newspaper editorialized that a female in the cockpit would be, and i quote, a nagging back seat rocket driver. thank you very much. good gasp. columnist ridiculed the prospect of winning women as astronauts calling themmals slow-nets. sally ride loved nasa as a kid but interest in nasa was simply aspect tate tore. like most kids in that era certainly some of you watched early space liftoffs when the teacher wheeled in a big black and white tv set with rabbit ears in the classroom and watched john glenn and everybody else take off. she learned tennis. was so accomplished on junior circuit and women's circuit considered turning pro. she dropped out of college a few
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months to give it a try. when she realized she would not be one of the elite of the elite, that is all sally ride would have ever settled for she decided that was not the place she needed to be. years later when she would be asked what it was that had stopped her from a tennis career sally always said which is fully, my forehand. it never stopped her forward progress. when tennis didn't work out pivoted to science. went up to stanford university for her undergraduate and her masters and doctorate in astrophysics. point out, say she was not underachiever. she was double english and astrophysics major when she was an undergraduate. sally was in the midst of writings her postgraduate school applications one morning in 1977 january 1977, when she weeks up in the morning. goes to the stanford student
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union to get a coffee and sweet role to wake up before class. picks up the stanford daily and never gets beyond the front page. the headline was just above the fold, and it read, nasa to recruit women. sally's future just dropped in her lap. nasa was finally reaching out. this is january of 1977 for women and minorities, for the upcoming new space shuttle program. unlike the the tools and the directions of the original space program which was to get us to the moon and which, and which meant riding in those little tiny spacecraft mercury, gemini and apollo, john glenn used to joke you didn't so much climb into the mercury capsule as you put it on. so unlike these little tiny spacecraft, the shuttle was now the size of an airplane. they could have larger crews. it was a whole different
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ballgame. because we were now not going to just one other place, the moon, but the space shuttle would lift off, circle the earth, many many times and then return to earth, there was a chance. there was a chance to do science in space. there was a chance to do experiments. we would launch the hubble space telescope. we would build a spacetation nasa figured out in order to get this done, it was time, they were bowing to some special pressure i should add in legal cases but we'll leave that aside for now. but it was time to add scientists. people who would conduct experiments in space and do all of these things. they called the new category of astronaut, mission specialist. thanks to all of these pressures on them and to their own awakening they wanted different genders and different races. so they put out the call for women and minorities and actively recruited them starting
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in 1976. sally got the news via the article in the stanford union, the stanford daily in january of 1977. she is sitting there drinking her coffee, reading the article, looks at job description of a new kind of astronaut called a mission specialist, says to herself, i could do that. puts down the paper goes off in search of stationary, a pen and envelope and a stamp. it was that long ago. and immediately sends off to nasa to request an application. sally was one of more than 25,000 people who wrote in for that application. eight thousand people filled them in, including more than 1500 women. in the end, after a very long process of interviews and screening and some very anxious moments, sally was one of 35 individuals chosen as the first class of shuttle astronauts. of them six were women three
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african-americans, men and one hawaiian men man. nasa was suddenly looking like the poster child for multiculturalism and sally was over the moon in her own way. when she got the call telling her the job was hers, sally, who by her own definition was very shy, very private very much an introvert genetically when she got the call she says she went jumping up and down in her bedroom, screaming and yelling. picks up the phone and calls her best friend from high school. hi there this is your friendly local astronaut calling. that is the way she identified herself to that friend for the rest of her life. her parents shared the glory in their own idiosyncratic way. sally used to joke that her father who taught political science at a community college in santa monica sally's father, she said, never understood science, didn't have a
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scientific bone in his body. when sally was growing up, studying astrophysics her father could not explain to anyone what she did. now that i'm an astronaut she said, his problems are solved. sally's mother, irrepressible joyce ride, when she got the news, told a reporter with sally going into space and her sister studying to be a minister, one of them would get to heavyp ven. before -- heaven. before she got there sally learned becoming an astronaut in 1978, meant a lot, or a little to a press corps with very little imagination. keep in mind, january 1978. one woman had flown in space a russian woman she flew in 1963. but because the soviet union was our cold war enemy, there was very little news, no transparency. we knew almost nothing about this woman or what happened in her spaceflight. the united states space program
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for all of its wonderful glory i take nothing away from it, by january of 1978 nasa had flown exactly three females in space, two spiders and one monkey. so sally an academic, a graduate student, she didn't know from press conferences gets to her first press conference and she is stunned by the stupidity of questions like aren't you afraid of being in orbit with all those men? and do you expect to run into any ufos? sally calmly answered no to the latter and assured former her academic career as astrophysicist made her very comfortable around males. i first met sally in 1981 when abc asked me to then join our terrific team to cover the upcoming space shuttle program. as i mentioned the anchor was frank reynolds.
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our science correspondent was a terrific guy jewels bergman who practically invented field. they want ad third person to the team for variety of reasons. i'm describing myself as the color guy in the baseball booth. i was there to do feature stories. because of number of things i wound up becoming lead reporter and anchoring all space shuttle missions and landings through the challenger explosion. it was really fun. my first assignment when i ght to the johnson space center in houston, was to, this is april of 1981. the first shuttle was about to launch. excuse me i went to? january of 1981 to prepare for the first launch in april. my story was do a story on first breed of astronauts women minorities, people who were not jetfighter pilots of old. we asked nasa a group of individuals who were
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representative, sally was one of the new bees that nasa offered up. i loved her at first because she spoke english not tech know talk and her direct manner an determination. i asked her why do you want to go intointo space? i expect ad cocky response that you got from the dominant astronaut culture. instead she says to me, i don't know. she said. i have discovered that half the people would love to go into space and there is no need to explain it to them. the other half can't understand and i couldn't explain it to them. if someone doesn't want to know why, i can't explain it. i thought that was just wonderful. in fraternity of up tight crewcuts she was a breath of fresh feminism readily acknowledging if it weren't for the women's movement she would not have her job. she also acknowledged that nasa with its 20-year heritage of white male fighter pilots had finally done the right thing. we became friends immediately. as the program developed and i wound up anchoring abc's coverage, sally and i continued to spend time together. we bonded over cold shrimp and
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cold beer. and funny stories at a variety of local dives one of which i recall offered mud wrestling which we managed to avoid. we both shared a healthy disregard for the overblown egos and conservative intransigence of both of our professions. beneath her unemotional demeanor a lot of people found icy, i found a caring friend with a very impish wit. when she married fellow astronaut steve hawley, their home became my beer and pizza hangout during other folks shuttle missions. sally got her chance five years later. she was the first of six women chosen to fly. she immediately became our newest american hero, a smart and funny and daring optimist who trained endlessly and answered questions tirelessly. the public attention was both flattering and frustrating to her. still reflecting that, still reflecting the difficulties that
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some had with accepting the entrance of women into this previously male-only club. including the one i would nominate as the dumbest question ever asked at a press conference anywhere, and i have been to a lot of press conferences. we are now ask the the -- at the, in may of 1983. sally flew in june of 1983. the crew was up there for their preflight press conference. so it is sally and four men in her crew sitting with her. questions went along pretty well. reporter from "time" magazine asks the question dr. ride, he said, i know that you have been through an entire year of training. i know it has been a very intense year. i know things sometimes go wrong in the simulator. when something does go wrong, when there is a glitch, like the shuttle crashes in simulation, when something really bad happens, how do you handle it, he said? do you weep? right. this is 1983.
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so, we're in a room of about half the size of this and most of the press corps including all of the women i might add, kind of rolled their eyes went, oh my goodness, silently. sally, this moment exists on tape and you can watch this you can dial it up on youtube or something. sally, gets the question. you see this look on her face like who is this person? she rolls her eyes, and then she starts to laugh and she smiles. she turns to rick hawk the pilot of her mission, sitting to her right, why doesn't anyone ever ask rick these questions? this is why sally ride was the perfect chose for first american woman in space. i if chosen would have clawed the guy's eyes out. sally laughed it off, defused bomb and went on from there. it was totally, totally brilliant. this is what she faced.
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and, it wasn't just the press. oh, i should there was another reporter who actually said to her, did you ever wish you were a boy? sally gritted her teeth said, no, i never thought about it. within nasa there were a number of other hurdles to leap. sally, as a first american woman to fly, was asked to make a number of decisions. everything that flies on the space shuttle or on any other american spacecraft with human beings on it, has to be checked for off-gassing, for flammability, for all sorts of reasons. so everything in her in the her personal kit, her toiletries kit, if you will had to be checked by nasa. since no woman had ever flown there were number of questions she sad. male engineers didn't know what the answer was. sally very wisely called five other women when she had to make the decision because she understood that every decision she made would devolve every
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other woman that flew so she wanted them in on it so that was great. six women managed to get many of the items they take in personal kits aloft changed. exchanging old spice after the shave lotion and british sterling deodorant for female friendly lotion and positions. hair restraints. we call them rubber bands. it wasn't just nasa and wasn't just the press. when the original launch date for sally's flight was shifted slightly to accommodate the schedule johnny carson joked on "the tonight show" the shuttle would be delayed so sally ride could find a purse to match her shoes. that was actually the funniest of all the jokes he told over the course of an entire year. i watched them all on tape and i must tell you my faith in the american people has been totally renewed. because johnny carson's jokes really went downhill, totally
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lame. mostly frat house gags. and they started out with a little at this timer of -- titer of audience. next time he told a joke that was awful, they kind of, next time they were silent, by the end they actually booed him. on the air. in just over a year, nasa's selection and sally's conduct transformed female astronauts from a punch line to a matter of national pride. the entire nation was riding with her. when i had my one-on-one interview with sally right before she flew, i said look, do you feel under any pressure as the first american woman to go up? she said yes i do feel pressure, she said, not to mess up. so all sally said but i knew just what she meant. she didn't want to mess up for the crew. she didn't want to mess up for the mission for nasa for the united states, for future of human spaceflight. all of these things were terribly important to her. but mostly i think she didn't
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want to mess up for other women. she understood that if she messed up it would be interpreted that no woman could ever fly as an astronaut but that if she did well, that door would be wide open for everybody. listen to what another astronaut from another generation pamela melroy, one of only go women to command a shuttle flight said about sally's flight. and i quote. wasn't until after i became an astronaut that i discovered the most important gift sally gave me she was tremendously competent. the reputation of everyone who comes after you depends on how well you do. sally opened those doors and smoothed the path for all women because she was so good at what she did. she was really, really good and she was really, really fun. on the day before she flew, all astronauts, before they fly are in quarantine so they don't get contaminated by us with some
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kind of a germ that would jeopardize the flight. so sally was not only in quarantine like all the astronauts, she was most fame must person on the planet for that particular 15 minutes. face was on cover of all magazines. everybody wanted a piece of her. she was off limits. known could talk to her. i'm sitting in in our abc work space which of course was a trailer. very glamorous work spaces we had at cape. day before her launch and preparing my script for that night's evening news, and i hear a phone ring and another part of the work space and someone picks it up, they say, lynn for you. i said, okay. i pick up the phone. little voice says, hi there. what are you doing ten minutes from now? i said, i don't know, sally. what am i doing ten minutes from now? she said walk outside your trailer, turn left, go down the gravel path and stop. i did that. 25 yards away from me was sally ride in shorts cutoff shorts
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t-shirt, flip-flops, standing by a car, smiling and waving at me and grinning. she knew i wouldn't come any closer and i wouldn't try to jeopardize her flight. she knew i wasn't going to ask her questions because she wasn't going to answer any, but saying to me, i'm fine, i'm happy. i'm really excited about this. you can tell the world that america's first woman in space is ready to go. it was a gift to me and it was also the way that i remember her most of all. that is who sally ride was. so june 18th, 1983 was the soft, bright morning at florida's kennedy space center. occasional puffs of white dotting the pure blue sky. at 7:33 a.m., the space shut sell challenger officially mission, sts-7, space shuttle transportation system, 7 the 7th flight, launched from the launchpad carrying crew of five. half a million lined the beaches to share the moment.
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many held up tiny daughters up to the sky by way of saying look what you can do when you grow up. as the anchor of abc's coverage that sunny saturday i unabashedly cheered her on. later in the week, concluding one of my pieces by saying technologically nasa is pushing towards the 21st century but in human terms, it is finally entered the 20th. i should tell you i had trouble getting that particular line past my bosses but i did. i also brought my mother to the launch. my mother was then approaching 80. she was thrilled. she told me afterwards, i saw the horse and buggy. i saw the airplane. and now this. and that there was a woman made it even better. when she landed a week later in edwards air force base in california president ronald reagan telephoned congratulations to the entire crew. when he got to sally, he said somebody says sometimes the best man for the job was a woman. you were there because you were the best person for the job. millions of other women agreed.
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the mystery of the universe with its infinite who are r horizons and limited access and fiery risk of riding two giant roman candles to get there magnified sally's entry what was all male, cowboy culture into potent can-do symbol. many women, especially young women, translated her bold journey into their own tickets to success. if she can do that they said, we can do anything. every single door is open. later when sally came home she was peppered with all sorts of questions. this introvert answered them all. she particularly liked the questions she got from kids, because she said, kids had no filters and they would ask the questions that adults all wanted to ask but were embarrassed to ask. for example, how do you go to the bathroom in space? sally had a simple explanation. easy, she said. it is like sitting on a vacuum cleaner.
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she also talked, about the extraordinary view out the shuttle's window. not only coral reefs off the coast alaska, glaciers in the himalayas, deforestation in the amazon. something else changed trajectory of her life once again. for the first time she saw the thin blue line encircling our planet. as if someone had taken a royal blue crayon, she said, and drawn it. recognizing the from gillty of earth's atmosphere. sometimes she changed the metaphor. the ribbon of atmosphere was earth's spacesuit. or it was a slim as the fuzz on a tennis ball. but that is all there was she realized the only thing protecting our planet, our lives, us, our lakes, our trees our seas, everything that's here from the harshness of outer space. and seeing that thin, blue, line is what would later become her motivating impulse for the rest of her life, protecting
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planet earth. that was just the beginning of her contributions to nasa. after the hideous accident that destroyed challenger and killed seven people on board, nasa was only astronaut and only woman to serve on the commission that investigated it. she was also the source of a critical revelation about the rocket's o-rings that helped pinpoint that problem which i talk about in print in the book for first time. she talked about the other -- was on the other investigative panel, the disintegration of the columbia as it reentered atmosphere in 2003. on that commission too she was a key player, getting real story about thats is a's behavior out to the public. once the bright new face of nasa sally had become its conscience. she convinced nasa to put a camera in space so, that students could control it remotely from their desks in their classrooms and take pictures of home planet to study
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impact environment. she called that earth cam. she teamed up with camera to fly cameras on twin satellites orbiting the moon, once again to let students snap pictures of various parts of moon so they could study them and print them out and hang them on their refrigerator doors and she called that one moon cam. she always wanted to give back to kids. she was by then long gone from the says space agency. . .
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beyond the stereotypes. she also wanted to make it a business that would make money. because that would attract the talents to make it work. she said over and over again to make science school again. the company was end is sally ride science and share down the barriers in society between the nation's of the world. like all astronaut sally new looking down at planet birth from space there are no borders dividing countries or anything else. that is the sally ride i knew. smart and witty and could come to new york and put her feet on the coffee table and watch the dumbest television programs that
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never were. she was superb at compromising. her college roommate used to say sally could study through whistling tea kettle but then sally said i can be intense and come home and, quote flip-flops which marked oblivion. that made her such a terrific friend. there with things i did not know about sally ride. i did not appreciate the psychic price she paid for her celebrity. this introvert who made thousands, tens of thousands of >>, signed autographs, did all of that, set herself up for every single public occasion. i did not know she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in march of 2011 which would take her life 16 months later at the age of 69. i did know until i wrote her obituary she was in a loving relationship with another woman
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for 27 years. sally ride is very good at keeping secrets. i am sorry she felt she was not able to the public about her long partnership but is also part of her story because ours is also the story of a particular time and place and a woman who had the brains and agility to seize the moment. when sally was born in 1951 outer space was science fiction and women's rights were marginal. the social advances and lucky timing that would enable the gifted young scientists to intersect to makers an inspiring lesson in modern history, she took full good van oth she took full advantage of the ever-widening definition of woman's place and made sure it was everywhere. that she could not or would not openly identify herself as a gay woman reflects not only her intense need for privacy, but the shame and the fear that an intolerant society can inflict
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even on its heroes. still, her legacy is secure. in the course of writing her biography, i found an extraordinary are woman; a california girl who wanted to save the planet an introvert whose radiant spirit pulled her into public service an academic who could explain rain drops to college students and the wonders of weightlessness to a room full of little girls. sally never planned her life five ten years down the road but when opportunity knocked she was able to open the door and sail right through it. look at her life. she thought she wanted to be a tennis player, and then pivoted back into science when that didn't work out. she wanted to be an academic but pivoted right into space history when that opportunity presented itself. she knew how to seize the moment and to be ready for it when it appeared. i used to tell her that moment in the stanford union when she read the article and saw that nasa was recruiting women, i said how prescient of you how
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extraordinary, what a life-changing thing, what a game changer. sally pulled a different moral from it. i guess the message is, she would deadpan to college audiences, read your college newspaper. [laughter] she did it all with a smile. years after her flight she shared the fun one day facing an auditorium about three times the size of this one filled with a i thousand youngsters -- with a thousand youngsters. imagine this room in space she said to them. you could do 35 somersaults in a row. my favorite thing about being in space was being weightless. there's not even a close second. every eye in the room would be wide and i bet half of them signed up to be astronauts. great recruiting technique. sally was an icon to kids and to grown-ups alike, and at 5-5 and a half, she could still swim candidate the -- intimidate the best of them. as one colleague put it, it was only after you left her presence
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that you realized she was really short. flying in space was neither her childhood goal, nor her adult commitment but having done it twice, she cherished the adventure. i call the things i've learned from sally flying lessons, because i think her ability to pivot, her ability to focus, the magnificent optimism that allowed her to ignore adversity and carry on, all of that teaches me and i think everybody else how to fly high without ever leaving earth. her life reminds us that whatever our own personal limits, there is something out there way grander than we can measure. more marvelous than we can imagine, something just waiting to be explored. she proved that you don't need to have the right plumbing to have the right stuff. and after bravely smashing through the celestial glass ceiling without messing up, she brought back the ultimate flying lesson. she was asked over and over what did you see out there? tell us what you saw out there.
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sally ride translated the dazzling reality that she saw from space into a beam of encouragement for all the rest of us here on earth. what did she see out there? the stars don't look bigger, she said but they do look brighter. sally ride's 61 years on this planet minus 343 hours, 47 minutes in space definitely made our lives brighter. i mourn her death two and a half years ago but i rejoice in her life. she was the perfect first american woman in space and a really terrific friend. thank you very much. [applause] . >> we have time, we have time for a few questions. if anybody would like to ask their question, would they come up here, up the aisle and use this microphone?
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>> no questions? >> [inaudible] >> okay, sure. >> the inspiration -- [inaudible] >> good question. what was sally's motivation to be the woman she was basically, and not fit into any of society's norms. and i think she didn't talk about it much but the answer is she had amazingly open-minded parents. her father what a combination. her father was an eisenhower republican purple heart winner from world war ii. her mother was an unreconstructed lefty who loved the fact that her vote canceled out her husband's every single time. [laughter] so sally grew up in this family that talked about everything deeply believed in education. education was the way forward.
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they -- she was a baby boomer, a baby boomer who went and did what she wanted to do. and there were never any barriers in that family. this was a very open minded socially open minded family that let their girls do what they wanted to do, not what they thought -- not what the parents thought they wanted to do. joyce ride, who is alive and kicking in her 90s now and a wonderful woman her husband dale died some years ago, joyce always called it benign neglect. she said i think our style of parenting was benign neglect we sort of let the girls be who they were, which i think is understating their influence on her. so i think it was a combination of having wonderful parents. sally also was the beneficiary of exquisite timing. she was born -- when she came of age and when this nasa recruitment started, the women's movement was already underway. she already had the advantage of
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laws being changed, minds being changed perhaps even more importantly, and she fit right into that. she also had a couple of very gifted teachers, and she talks about a science professor she had in high school who really helped change the trajectory of her life. she was always going to -- she wanted science and this science teacher helped her understand the elegance of science and helped her appreciate what a beautiful thing it was. sally really thought science was fun, science was cool. science was not about a guy with funny einstein hair in a white lab coat working in a basement living all by himself. science was about working together. science was teamwork. i think this is why she was such a great i crew member, because she loved teamwork. she preferred doubles to singles in her tennis. and i think all of these things are that coalesced in making her a great team player and also an individual who just broke through as many barriers as she
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could. sure. >> hi. good morning. you look wonderful -- [inaudible] >> thank you. [laughter] where were you back then? >> sorry. didn't run into you then. what date, do you remember, in june of '83 that she set offsome. >> i think it was june 17th. is that what i said? i'm going to say 17th it might be 18th. i actually have it written down here. >> okay. i didn't hear that point, so i think i'll look it up. >> i think it was 18th, now that i've said that. june 18th 1973. >> thank you so much. >> how many of you remember sally's launch? did it mean something to you? yes, no? yes. i think it really did. i mean, i think it was one of those seminal moments in america when a lot of people stopped and watched, and it made such a huge difference which was great. i'm just leafing through this to find the exact date because i don't want to have said the wrong date and have 12 people or
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1200 people writing me. any more questions? yes. >> june 18th, definitely. >> did sally ever talk to you -- because you mentioned the pressure that she was under as the first female in space. did she talk to you subsequent about the pressure that she was larger than, in life -- she was larger to the public than she was as a person, so that as she went out all the things that he did after being the first woman that there was, she understood the impact she was having? >> she totally understood it. keep in mind this is not a woman who -- we could sit and gossip about people about certain things. she didn't talk a lot about her own feelings. this was not the way she functioned. but i knew from the roll of the eyes and from the way she conducted herself how much she
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hated the attention. she -- you know what our celebrity culture's like now. it wasn't that bad in 1983 and subsequently but it was bad. sally, people want to touch you. people want to get in your space. people want to be there. this is so antithetical to who sally ride was. so when she would come to new york actually the first time he came when she was really, really -- when she was really, really famous, the nypd had a bodyguard service for her, and instead she relied on my husband to sort of body block everywhere we went, which was fine. but she knew that other than what i needed for my job i was not going to blow her cover in most cases. and we would slip in and out of places and i would protect her on occasion -- as everyone did unasked. it was very troubling to her. and the only way that i really got into her soul a little bit, and that's all in the book is thank goodness during the time
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of her flight and right after she did keep a journalment never again -- journal. never again the rest of her life. and she talks about impact on her soul. and she never talked to me about it but she talked to her diary about it, and it turns out she consulted a psychotherapist as well. all of those early speeches drove her to -- and i don't mean that in a negative way, but sent her to seek help from a profession also she could try to concern professional so she could try to understand. i don't remember the exact phrase, it's in the book, from her diary talks about i think the advice she got was she was trying to understand how or why talking about it so much in public took the experience away from her. she wanted to keep it as her private experience, and she had to share it with so much of the public. this was very troubling to her. i wish she had talked more about herself and her soul and her deepest wishes and she just didn't. it's the way she was. yes.
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>> first thanks for your great work on tv. >> thank you. >> knowing this was a time of great change, i'm wondering if you have any insight as to how the other astronauts on that shuttle flight accepted her. were they -- they certainly were openly accept -- >> right. >> how did they -- >> i've spoken to all of them and they're mostly all very good friends of mine. these were the four men on sally's first flight, and there are a number of answers to that question. one is on the one hand they were all thrilled to be flying. the goal when you become an astronaut is to fly. so they could have saided that 13 monkeys and 4 spiders were going, and these guys would have been just fine with that. also one two three -- all four of them were military guys. with military backgrounds. and their whole training was it's not about me, it's about the mission.
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they were thrilled at one level that sally was the one getting all the attention. they didn't have to do these dreaded press interviews with people like me who would say how to you feel about -- how do you feel about this flight and what are you going to be doing. so they loved that it was sally. they liked the fact that because of sally they were invited to the white house, first time ever a crew was invited to the white house before a flight. they had lunch with president reagan. they liked a lot of the extra attention they got. but they were happy to give it to her. they really liked working with sally. and there is no other way to put it. i have talked to them all at length. it's not fake, it's not phony. they all became quite good friends, and they really enjoyed working with her. she proved herself. she was -- she not only pulled equal weight, she surpassed a lot of them in certain ways. the commander so enjoyed flying with her that he had her on his next flight, and he was the commander of her second and last mission. so they liked it.
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they liked it just fine. yes. >> why did you leave broadcasting? >> why did i leave broadcasting. [laughter] i left abc and i probably have the exact date somewhere, but i don't. it was probably around since years ago. because it was time. i had a wonderful career at abc news and in print journalism before then. and the business was changing in a way that i didn't love, and i thought it was probably time for me to answer to my own bells as opposed to an assignment desk telling me what to do. and i didn't like the direction things were -- i think television news has serious challenges now that it can't figure out how to cope with. the marginalization of the audience the fractionalization of the audience, i should say. there's so many things competing for everybody's attention. i was also lucky enough -- every time i would complain about something, peter jennings who was one of my closest friends, peter would say leadership
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we've been through the golden years. and he was right. i lived through a great time. i lived through a time in television news when getting the story was the only thing that mattered when the story mattered more than the correspondent, when news was a public service, when the bottom line was less important than getting the truth. and i think a lot of that has changed, unfortunately. police departments yeah. i think it's -- [applause] yeah i think there are challenges that they're trying to pause right now, and i don't like the way they're facing all of them. and i think people are trying. i think there's still some terrific reporters out there, but, you know, with the budge cutbacks -- budget cutbacks, when i was -- i hate stories that start this way but none the his when i was in television news we -- nonetheless, when i was in television news we had editors, and i could turn in a crypt and somebody perhaps with more experience and wiser than i
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might say, lynn you can't say that. what's the source for this? oh yeah, right. i'd go back and i'd find the source, and i'd make it right, and i'd learn. and with the pressures of 24/7 news right now, there are number one and with the budget cutbacks there aren't these editors, there's not time. stuff is being thrown on the air before people have a chance to vet it and say this is right this is wrong. there's almost no accountability, and i -- it's sad. i think the public is not being as well served as we all should be. i think one part of 24/7 news which is wonderful is it takes away the mythology that only a reporter knows what's going on. by the same token, we do know. we're trained to ask questions and ferret out the facts and figure out what's true and what's not true k. and i think the public is not being served many many times. so i don't moon to be screaming -- mean to be screaming doom and gloom here, but i think we have a lot of
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lessons to learn. and also i love writing books. [laughter] thank you. thank you -- oh, one more question sorry. yes, sir. [applause] >> [inaudible] >> what did sally share with me about challenger? thank you. sally was very close-mouthed for a while and i could tell by her manner how she felt. challenger exploded, you may recall there was then a big memorial service at the johnson space center where president reagan spoke very eloquently, and i was there. my husband happened to be in california, and he met me there, and we went out to dinner with sally. the next day we were over at their house, and sally got a phone call, and that was the phone call asking her to be on the rogers commission which she didn't talk about but i knew what was going on. and i could tell from the grim look on her face exactly how she
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felt. i knew how she felt. and she essentially said this is something i have to do. sally was horrified. she had lost seven friends christa mcauliffe the schoolteacher who was flying on that flight was not a friend but she knew her. but the astronauts were her friends, her close friends. judy resnik was a close friend. dick sew bee, the commander, was a close friend. she was very very upset about that. keep in mind, also this challenger that exploded during that accident. sally had flown on challenger twice. both times she flew, she sat in the flight engineer's seat. so up in the cockpit there's the commander and the pilot -- i think i have that backwards -- and the engineer, flight engineer sits right behind them. sally's job on liftoff and reentry was she had all the check sheets open checklists open in front of her, and if something went wrong, she was the one that was supposed to call out the sequence of events about what to do next.
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luckily, nothing went wrong. judy can resnik was sitting in exactly that seat when challenger exploded, crashed to the sea and sally said i often thought about judy sitting in that seat, because that was my seat. she was -- as she got on the commission and quickly learned what had happened, she was particularly incensed by nasa's behavior. not everyone at nasa. certain managers, it was mostly the guys at the marshall space flight center and the people who built the rocket which, of course had the faulty o-ring. and sally said over and over she would shake her head. she just was astounded that anybody could do it so badly. i had the only interview with sally during the challenger commission, the rogers commission hearings. and i said to her given the way things are now, would you fly again? she said i'm not ready to fly
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now. exhibiting the fact that she had lost faith in nasa at that moment. what's important to know about sally, though, is she didn't say a pox on you you guys did badly, i never want to talk to you again. her job was to fix it. and so she was part of that commission that recommended a set of things they should do, and sure enough, they did. and they did fix it. and it did get better. and there were many successful launches until columbia in 2003 when she famously said at one of the hearings, i'm beginning to hear a kind of echo here. she saw that same trend to bad management that the lesson had been learned but not well enough. .. 135 successful shuttle launches. that is a pretty good record that there is no reason those lives had to be lost ever and sally would be the first person to say to you that was wrong and i guess she would say that nasa and messed up.


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